It’s 4:45 in the morning and I’m leveraging myself out of bed. I tried to convince myself to go to bed earlier the previous night but I couldn’t sleep. I jumped into the shower and woke my son. He never went to bed that night. He returned home from work at 3:00 AM. He was definitely going to sleep the majority of the seven and a half hour drive.
We stopped at Tim Horton’s where I purchased the extra-large black coffee that would be my companion for the next hour. I plugged in my iPod and we listened to the podcasts which I had been saving for the trip. I enjoyed the solitude of the early morning drive; the solitude which was punctuated by Stephen’s rhythmic snoring. I glanced at him from time to time and witnessed perfection.
We arrived at the hotel and checked in before making the short trip to the campus. I love this campus! There is so much history and so much enthusiasm for football; the “Fighting Irish.” We made our way to the main bookstore where we purchased this years football shirt. The front of the shirt shows the infamous “Four Horseman” while the reverse states, “Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.”
We walked to the stadium and navigated the stairs to a better perch. We listened to the sounds of the loudspeaker echo through the historical brickwork which makes up the Notre Dame stadium. If walls could speak the stories they would tell. After entering the stadium we located our seats. Player introductions were made and our National Anthem punctuated the falling rain. That song takes on a special meaning for me when I am here. The combination of Notre Dame history coupled with the singing of our National Anthem brings tears to my eyes. I looked at Stephen and the smile on his face and it became clear why it is important to not allow the little things such as the price of gas get in the way of enjoying the time I spend with my family. The steady rain which fell was also not enough to dampen our elevated spirits.
As the game concluded we traversed the campus sidewalks on our way back to our car and then our hotel room. We each indulged in a quick shower more to warm up than for cleanliness sake. Dinner beckoned. Neither of us had eaten throughout the day and we looked forward to a meal together. The rain stopped us from touring the campus this evening. Even though we have both visited this campus numerous times we both become caught up in the emotion and the history of this historical institution. Photographs will need to be taken tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning will arrive rapidly. A quick run, a shower, breakfast, some photographs and we’ll be on our way back home. The weekend will come to an end but the priceless memories will remain for the foreseeable future.
I woke easily Sunday morning and laced on my running shoes. I quickly became concerned as I realized I never packed a winter hat. I briefly debated and seeing the Notre Dame campus via a run through the campus at 5:30 AM won out. I began my run. Each step flowing easily.
As I turned onto the main road of the campus I reached up to shut off my headlamp. I stopped and looked toward the “Golden Dome”. Looming ahead of me was the golden dome of the Notre Dame administration building. As I gazed in awe I said a quick prayer and expressed my gratitude for the health of my family and myself. I began running again and found myself being magnetically pulled in the direction of one of the other iconic features of the campus; “Touchdown Jesus.” My run continued and my pace quickened as the street sign informed me I was on Juniper Lane. Like a horse knowing the barn is nearby, my pace quickened. A false rise loomed in the distance. These rises which serve only to break one’s spirit. As I hit each rise I was reminded there was another 100-yards before I made my last turn back to the hotel.
My feet seemed to shuffle to the top of each rise and as I crested the small summit, my pace quickened, once again assisted by the natural pull of gravity. As I returned to our hotel room I was comforted by a warm feeling of accomplishment. When I run very little disturbs my thought process. One foot falls in front of the other. I pay attention to the sounds my body makes but little else intrudes into that stream of thought. There are many things in life over which I have no control. It is what it is. A good run helps this attitude remain my constant companion throughout the day.